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GLT Datebook: Brats and Bags Fundraiser Returns To Bloomington

Sunrise Rotary

Nothing feels more Midwestern than playing bags while enjoying a brat and a cold beer on a summer night.

The Bloomington-Normal Sunrise Rotary Club will tap into that classic Midwestern fun with its Brats and Bags fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 3.

"I don't know a more Midwestern-y feel fundraiser that you're going to get anywhere else. You hear about 5Ks, but those happen everywhere. You hear about golf outings, that's something that happens across the nation. But the idea of, ‘Hey! Come have a brat and throw bags,’ I think you have to kind of be from our region to really truly appreciate and have a feel for it,” said event co-chair Chris Downing.

This year the bags teams will be exclusively amateur, meaning the teams are not on the professional regional rankings. The tournament will follow a double-elimination system with 16 sets of bags areas. Downing said he hopes this will allow the tournament to proceed faster than previous years.

Teams will also only be allowed to compete if they’re from McLean County or near McLean County. Downing said he wants this year to have an even friendlier vibe.

“One of the fun things that I get to do, is that the bags are lined up so you're able to look right down the middle. And to watch the bags kind of arc back and forth, it is almost like a more simplified water dance that you would maybe see at Las Vegas or something like that. They're just these blue and red bags on an arc making their way back and forth. And the subtle thuds that they make, as they hit the boards, and as you have everybody playing, it becomes almost rhythmic. It has an almost like a feel of nature to it. When it gets down to the final teams you get to see the investment and emotion that people have put into it,” said Downing.

Brats will start cooking around 8 a.m. and will be served from 11 a.m. to 1p.m. White Oak Brewery will be serving three varieties of local beers and other refreshments. Tickets for brats and beer will be sold by Rotary members, online, or at the event for $8.

The featured charities are the Boys & Girls Club and the Midwest Food Bank. Last year the Sunrise Rotary Club raised about $20,000, and Downing said he hopes to make more this year.

Brats and Bags will take place in Downtown Bloomington courthouse square. Team registration and warmups will begin at 3:30 p.m., and the tournament will begin at 5 p.m. More information can be found on the Bloomington-Normal Sunrise Rotary Club’s Facebook page or its website.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.